african-american family. by the way, booktv's covered her earlier on this book, and it's an hour in length. go to booktv.org, and search function in the upper left hand corner and type in her name, and you can watch the entire hour. thanks for being with us. >> visit booktv.org to watch any of the programs you see here online. type the author or book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page, and click search. you can also share anything you see on booktv.org easily by clicking "share" on the upper left hand side of the page and selecting the format. booktv streams live every weekend for 48 hours. booktv.org. up next, ben carson presents his thoughts on america's current
social and political landscape. director of pediatric neurosurgery at john happen -- hon hopkins talking about america. this is an hour and 15 minutes. [applause] >> now, let me just say that's more than a quarter of a century. i'm a little older than that, but it's a real -- okay. it's a real pleasure to be with you here this evening. i heard a lot about the blackburn institute and the lectureship, and i'm very honored to be a part of this distinguished group. i wanted to talk a little bit this evening about some of the
things that really shaped my own life and my own philosophy. you know, i was one of those people who kind of knew what i wanted to do from very early on. in fact, it was always the thing that interested me. if there was ever a story on television or on the radio about medicine, i was right there just like a magnet. i liked going to the doctor's office, but, you know -- [laughter] the thing that really caught my attention was church. you know, and so they frequently had stories on about missionary doctors, and these were people who were great personal expense traveled all over the world to bring not just physical, but mental and spiritual healing to people. they seemed to me to be the most noble people on the face of the earth, and i decided when i was 8 years old that i was going to be a missionary doctor. that was my dream until i was
13. [laughter] at which time having grown up in dire poverty, i decided i'd rather be rich. at that point missionary doctor was out, and psychiatrist was in. now i didn't know any psychiatrists, but on television, they were rich. they lived in big mansions, plush offices, and they just had to help crazy people all day. [laughter] seemed like i was doing that anyway. i said this will work out extremely well. i started reading psychology. i was the local shrink in the high school. everybody brought me their problems. i would stroke my chin. [laughter] i said, tell me about your mamma. i was gung-ho. i was going to be a psychiatrist. then i met them.
i'm kidding. two of my friends are psychiatrists, but what i discovered quickly what they do on television and what they do in real life was duovery different things, and what they do in real life is more important than what they do on television. they are some of the more intellectual members of the medical community. it was not just what i wanted to do. i had to say, well, now what? i said, what are you really good at? i believe god gives everybody special gifts, and i stopped and analyzed my own gifts. i realized that i had a lot of eye-hand coordination. i was very careful person, never knocked things over and said whoops. that's a good characteristic for a brain surgeon by the way. [laughter] i could think and see in three dimensions. i loved to dissect things. you would be a natural in near
-- neurosurgery. people thought that was strange for me because there were only eight black surgeons in the world at the time. i never thought of things like that. i thought where would i fit? it turned out to be a very excellent choice for me. you know, i started out as an adult neurosurgeon but quickly learned no matter how good an operation you do on those patients, they never get any better until they get their settlement -- [laughter] whereas with children, you know, what you see is what you get. you know, when they feel good, you know they feel good. when they feel bad, you know they feel bad. you know, here's the thing. you know, you can operate on a kid for 12, 14, 16 hours, and if you're successful, you're reward may be 40, 50, 60 years of
life. whereas an old man, you spend all that time operating, and they die in five yearsing -- years of something else. i like a big return on my investment. i'm kidding. i like old people. actually, i'm one of them. a large part of my practice now involves a condition that affects primarily all the people. it's fie bra myalgia. it used to be called the suicide disease because the pain was so bad. we have the ability of getting rid of that disease. there's nothing like seeing someone's life turned upside down, have a procedure, and then they have their life back. that's what medicine is about. being able to intervene at times like that and make a difference. now, before i go any further, i want to take just a brief moment for a disclaimer.
now, everybody makes disclaimers these days. have you noticed that? i belong to this board. i'm associated with this group. you take everything with a grain of salt. what i have noticed in recent years is that now it is virtually impossible to speak to a large group of people without offending someone. have you noticed that? when i was a kid, you know, they used to say, sticks and stones break my bones, but words never hurt me. kids don't know that phrase anymore because everybody walks around with their feelings on their shoulder waiting for somebody to say something, and then think go, oh, did you hear that? they can't hear anything else you say. i was talking to a group about the difference between a human brain and a dog's brain. a man was offended. he said, you can't talk about dogs like that. another time i was talking to a group about how the fashion industry has gotten to young
ladies who think they have to be so skinny. they look like they escaped from a concentration camp. a jewish man was offended. he said you can't mention concentration camps. that's too sensitive. it's like me talking about slavery. i said, you can talk about slavery all you want. doesn't offend me. some people choose to be offended. it's not my intention to offend anyone here this evening, and if you are offended to that, because i got to tell you, i don't really believe in political correctness, and, in fact, i actually think it is a very destructive force that is in the process of ruining our nation. i talk about this a lot in my latest book, "america the beautiful," but think about this. a lot of the people who founded this nation came here trying to
escape from people who tried to tell you what you could think and what you could say, and here we are re-introducing it through the back door, exactly the same thing. it is absolutely absurd, and really the emphasis should not be on unanimity of speech and unanimity of thought. the emphasis should be on learning how to be respectful of people with whom you disagree, and if we begin to do that, then we could begin to have some intelligent, rational dialogue. how can you have real dialogue when you can't even say what you believe? you can't even say what you mean. you have a necessarily artificial conversation, and our society is now full of artificial conversation, and it's one of the reasons that we are making very little progress,
and it's something that i think people are going to have to get excited about once again, recognizing that, you know, our society is changing quite dramatically right now. there is a very secular segment that is trying to change the nature of our society, and they have employed political correctness as a means to make decisions on what's being done, and the only way to be combated is that people have to learn how to speak up because there are few people with microphones and podiums who impose good will on
the rest of the people to the point that in this nation where all of our copies and bills say "in god we trust" and we're afraid to say merry christmas. i mean, how did that happen? the only way that kind of thing happens is when the vast majority of people allow themselves to be controlled by a vocal minority. you know, you think back to nazi germany, most of those people did not believe in what hitler was doing, but did they speak up? no. they kept their mouths shut. you see what happened? we're in the process of watching a lot of things that characterize our greatness go down the tubes because of passivity. when people start rivetting
things up a little bit like the tea party, they get labeled as anarchists and crazy people because there is an establishment consistenting of democrats and republicans who want to maintain the status quo and want to maintain their power and to grow their power and to grow their intrusiveness, and they don't want anybody to say anything about it, and that's really what a lot of political correctness is all about. you'll read about that in great detail in my newest book, but, you know, i had this tremendous dream of becoming a doctor, but there were problems along the way, not the least of which was the fact that my parents got
divorced early on. that was devastating. some of you have been through that. you know what i'm talking about. anybody out there thinking about getting divorced and you have children, think about that again. ask yourself, am i being selfish? you know, it's the same person you loved and adored not too long ago, and most divorce is secretary to just -- secondary to selfishness. they just think about themselves, not about the family, not about the child. just a little food for thought, but at any rate, my parents got divorced, and, you know, and in this particular case, my mother discovered that my father was a bigamist, had another family, so i don't think she had a lot of choice there. she just had a 3rd grade education, and there she was faced with the prospect of raising two sons in inner detroit with little money and
little education. we moved to boston to live with her older sister and brother-in-law in a typical boarded up window and door environment with violence, gangs, and murderers. both of my older cousins whom i loved were killed. i never expected to live beyond 25 years of age. there was never money for anything. you know, we'd go to the store and my brother and i would want bubble gum or jaw breakers and we would ask my mother if we could get them, and, of course, she was always the same. there was no money for that, and she wanted to get it for us, but the look of pape in her eyes was so great, pretty soon we just stopped asking. we just didn't want to see that look in her eyes anymore, but as difficult a life as she had, and
she worked two to three jobs at a time as a domestic cleaning other people's houses because she didn't want to be on welfare. she had just a 3rd grade education. she was very driven, and she noticed that no one she ever saw go on welfare came off of it. she said, i don't want to go on it. i don't care how hard and how long i have to work, but as difficult as her life was, she never adopted what i call the victim's mentality. she never felt sorry for herself. i think that was a good thing. the problem was she never felt sorry for us either. [laughter] there was never any excuse we could give that was adequate. she'd say, do you have a brain? if the answer was yes, then you could have thought your way out of it. ..
they would correct it and give it back to you. they would call your name out loud and you had to report your score outlet. not a problem if you got 100 or 95. major problem if you got a zero and just had an argument about who is the dumbest person in the world. i said oh boyd they are going to laugh hysterically when i say that so i started scheming. i said i know what i will do. when she calls my name, i will mumble, and the teacher will think i said one thing and the girl behind me will think i said something else so when she called my name i said -- and instead of writing it down she said, benjamin you got nine right? this is wonderful. i need to do it if you would just apply yourself. class i want you to understand the significance. if you can do it anybody can. she just kept ranting and raving and finally the girl behind me couldn't stand it anymore and she said, he said none. of course they were rolling in
the aisles and if i could have just disappeared into thin air, never to be heard from in the history of the world i would gladly have done so but i couldn't. so i would just sit there and act like it didn't bother me, but it bothered me a lot. not enough to make me study but it bothered me a lot. [laughter] i was just one of those kinds of kids. unfortunately, there are a lot of those kinds of kids still around. even today. i have a program at the hospital. i bring in 800 students at a time. i show them slides and what goes on in a major teaching hospital, a research hospital. and we talk about human potential and i let them ask me questions but sometimes i ask the questions. i remember asking once, i said, how many of you can name for me five nba players?
do you know virtually all of the hands went up? i said, what about five nfl players? all the hands went up. major league baseball? rap singers, movie stars? all the hands went up. who can name for me five nobel prize winners? out of 800, 10 hands went up. i said, leave your hands up as i am going to call in one of you and all the hands went down. now what does that tell you? than i said well you know, this is the information age, the age of technology. who can tell me what a microprocessor is and of course they were wary by now and only one young man raised his hand and i called him him. he said a microprocessor is a tiny processor. that was it. that was the extent of his knowledge, extremely superficial. that is really quite troubling, because what are the implications of that kind of
ignorance? you know there was a survey and some of you might be familiar with it, in the '90s. looking at the ability of eighth grade equivalents in 22 nations to solve so-called complex math and science problems. we were one of the 22 nations and we came in number 21 of 22. we barely beat out number 22. i am very serious. in the age of technology they asked a -- information age we produce 70,000 engineers a year in this nation 40% of whom are foreigners. china produces 400,000. you know, this is serious stuff when we are talking about the future and our role in the future. we need to begin to make adjustments and we need to make the quite soon. we can't sit around just being
enamored about sports and entertainment. i shouldn't say that at the university of alabama. [laughter] but i think you get it. i think we all get it. eco-'s, we are the pinnacle nation of the world right now. but, we are not the first pinnacle nation. there have been other pinnacle nations before us, ancient egypt, greece, rome, great britain, france and spain. pentacle nations, number one, no competition. going to be there forever fazon where are they now? what has happened to each and everyone of them? basically the same thing. they became enamored with sports and entertainment, lifestyle so the rich and famous, turned a blind eye to political corruption, lost their moral compass and went right down the tubes. some people say, that can't happen to the united states. that i think an honest assessment would demonstrate that it is already in the
process of happening and the real question is, can we be the first pinnacle nation to actually learn from those who preceded us -- preceded us and take corrective action, or must must we inexorably still go down the same destructive path? that is really the question. i personally believe that we can, and that was the reason my wife and i wrote our latest book, "america the beautiful." pecan, we can make a difference because we are different. this nation is the child of every other nation. therefore, we should have the interest of every other nation at heart. we are the perfect ones to remain in a pentacle position
for that and a number of other reasons. but you know, as far as educational doldrums are concerned, you should know that this is not the way it has always been here. in fact in 1831, plan alexis de tocqueville came here and studied america, because the europeans were just fascinated with america. they said here is a nation barely 50 years old, which is already competing with us on virtually every level. that's impossible. how could a fledgling nation be doing that? he wanted to come over here and dissect and see what the heck was going on over here and while he was there he said let me look at their school system. and he was blown away. to see that virtually anybody finishing the second grade was completely literate. he could go out and find a mountain man who could reason that -- read a newspaper and could have a decent political discussion with him. he had never seen anything like
that before. you know, go to some of the museums and look at some of the letters written by people on the frontier in the wild west. you would think a college professor had written those letters if you look at the vocabulary and grammar, the way it was done. there was a lot more emphasis in times past. if you really want to be blown away, get ahold of a sixth-grade exit exam from the 1830s. there are questions in america the beautiful, in the book, some exit exam from this time. see if you can pass that test. i doubt that most college graduates today could pass that test. we have dumbed things down to that level. why is that so important? because the founders of our nation made it very clear that for our type of government to
succeed, it requires a very well-informed and educated populace. they say without that, what will happen is that you will have ever expanding government that will eventually take over the lives and the functions of the people. that is why it is so important, and it's not too late, for people to educate themselves, to actually know what's going on, so that you cannot be easily led by some pundit on television who tells you what you are supposed to think, who you are supposed to like, who you are not supposed to like. we have reached the stage where a lot of people will go into the voting booth and the only thing they're looking for is a name that looks familiar to them.
they don't know anything about them. oh yeah, i know that name. i will vote for that one. that is irresponsible. that is not what the intention was. the intention was for the people to be very involved and very informed, and you look at how things have changed dramatically. the founding fathers were smart people, but they didn't anticipate everything. for instance, they looks looked at a system of government within executive branch and the legislative branch and the judicial branch. that comes from the book of isaiah, by the way. as did a lot of things in our government, a judeo-christian basis for the establishment of our government. but, it worked very well the way that it was established. what they did not anticipate was a fourth branch of government.
which we now have, which is grown very big and very powerful and that is called special interest. and why did that occur? well, the way it was initially set up, it was sacrificed to go into the government and therefore, it wasn't really anticipated the people would want to stay there for the rest of their lives. you know they would go to serve, go back to their community and somebody else would come. but it has changed and now people want to stay for their whole lives and they need money in order to do that and they have to establish relationships with powerful financial entities. and that cannot be done without quid pro quo. hence you have the establishment of another branch of government, which is very powerful and distorts the will of the people. i would go so far as to say virtually anything that make no
sense, it's because it is a special interest group behind it. those are things that we, the people, are going to have to find ways to change. at any rate, i will tell you i did not remain the dummy in the class, because my mother with her third-grade education, was determined that i would succeed at my brother would succeed. she didn't know what to do and she prayed and asked god to give her with them. what could she do to get her young sons to understand the importance of intellectual development and do you know what? god gave her the wisdom, lisa and her opinion. my brother and i did not think it was all that wise. turning off the tv, what kind of wisdom was that? as far as we were concerned it was child abuse. she said we could watch two or three tv programs during the weekend with all the spare time we had reading two books a piece on the detroit public library and submit to her written book reports which he could not read. she would put checkmarks in
highlights and underlines and we would think she was reading them, and she wasn't. i was not very happy about this as you might imagine in the beginning. but you know, after a few weeks, i actually began to enjoy reading those books week as we were desperately poor but it didn't cost anything to go to the library in between the pages of books, i could go anywhere and i could be anybody, could do anything. i would imagine myself conducting experiments. i began to know things that nobody else knew because the space of the year and a half i went from the bottom of the class to the top of the class much to the consternation of all the students who used to call me dummy. they were now coming to me saying bennie, bennie, bennie how do you do this problem? i was perhaps a little obnoxious, but it sure felt good to say that to those turkeys. the key thing was, i had a very different impression at that time of who i was, and i had an
insatiable appetite for knowledge. you know you never saw me without a book. i went from being called a dummy to being called a bookworm. even my mother would say, benjamin put the book down any your food. it didn't matter, i was always reading and what a tremendous difference it made. and it is one of the reasons that you know my wife and i started the carson college fund. you know, it has two aspects. help yourself to go to the web site, and i don't have much time to go into it except to say that we would see all these trophies in basketball and stayed wrestling, allstate is, that in the other but what about the academics? what did they get? may be a national honor society tag come a pat on the head, they are, their little nerd. nobody really cared about them. they really never got much to.
so we started trying to put them on the same kind of pedestal as the all-state athletes and given the same kind of recognition. but the other thing that we did is we put in reading rooms. all over the country, because you know, there are a lot of students who come from homes where there are no books. and then they go to a school where there is no library. what are the chances of that individual loving to read? and we know there is a strong correlation between those who are able to read well and success in our society. and we have to make every effort that we can to change that. we can't just let it gradually change, because we are under the gun right now. i may have mentioned that.
there are other nations that are advancing much more quickly than we are. we have to be incredibly serious about this and engaged. so i ask you, tonight, go to carson's commerce.org and get involved, because we have to change this if we are going to survive as a pinnacle nation. you know, the other aspect of our scholarship fund, in order to even be considered, child has to have a 3.75 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. most of them have corp. -- 4.0. they also have to demonstrate humanitarian qualities that they care about other people. they can't win unless they have demonstrated that for more than six weeks before the application and it has to be sustained with
humanitarian activity. why is that so important? this nation is a humanitarian nation. think about it. anytime there is a disaster, who is first in line to give money, to get supplies? we are. and it has always been that way. you can even go back to the very earliest part of our nation. you know, europeans were looking at us and they were saying, those americans are just crazy. they said, i mean look at the fords and the kellogg's and the vanderbilt's and the carnegie's and the rockefellers. those people have enormous amounts of money and nobody else has any money. you can't have a system like that. that doesn't work. you need to have an overarching government that collects the money and redistribute the
wealth in the way that it sees fit. in other words, the united states of america was responsible for socialism because we were the ones who inspired them to do that. but you know, they made one miscalculation. they assumed that those names that i just mentioned were like the rich people in their nation, who just accumulated wealth for themselves and passed down from generation to generation. but all those names that i just mentioned florida norris amounts of wealth back into infrastructure, and to building factories, textile mills, creating an environment that bends spurred on the most prolific middle class the world had ever seen. they also created foundations, charitable organizations, schools, hospitals.
that has been the nature of wealth in america. in 2009, 40 of the wealthiest families in america pledge to give away half their wealth. call any country in europe and us before wealthiest families to give up half their wealth. this is an american phenomenon and it is very important that we do not extinguish it with class warfare. that is very detrimental, dividing people up in any way, no matter who does it and for what purpose. that is not what allows strength. a wise man once said a house divided against itself cannot stand. so when we start talking about fairness, what we need to do is all get together and ask
ourselves, what is it? in my opinion, god is fair. what did god say? he said i want you to tithe. he didn't say, if you have a bumper crop you only a triple tithe and if your crops fail you don't own owe me anything, so there must be something very fair about proportionality. if you make $10 billion, you give a billion. you make $10, you give one. why is that complex? some people say well, it doesn't hurt the billionaire much. you don't need to hurt him. it's that kind of thinking that has created 602 banks in the cayman islands. that is craziness. and we need to just abandon that. what we do need to do though is make it a fair system where you don't have a bunch of loopholes and ways for people to get out of things. and you know it's time for us as a nation to sit down together
and figure out how to get this done in a truly fair way, not picking one group and saying we are going to do this for you and picking another group and saying we are going to do this for you. that is really not fair and that is really not the american way when we try to pit one group against another in order to gain political power. and these are all things that were talked about in detail by the founders of our nation, which i hope you will get the new book and read it because i put all the quotations in there and my wife did all the research. it is not rewritten. this is what actually happened and that established a nation that is so special. why do i think america is so special? for hundreds of years, for thousands of years, before america came on the scene, people did things the same way.
within 200 years of the establishment of this nation, men were walking on the moon. completely changed the course of mankind and of the world. the freedom, the entrepreneurship, the caring that established this nation. we cannot allow that to disappear from us. you would think that now that i am a terrific student, everything was going to go well for me. wrong. you see when i got up high school i ran into the worst thing a young person could run into. it's called peers. that stands for people who in courage arrogance rudeness and stupidity and that is what they were doing. telling you a kind of clothes you should wear and where you should be hanging out. i got caught up in that stuff and i went from an a to a b
student who c student. i didn't care because i was cool and i went through whole year before my mother again was able to get me to understand, it wasn't what you were on the outside. but it was what you had up here that made the difference. i got back on the right track and they were calling me nerd and poindexter and uncle tom but i always shut them up by saying one thing. let's see what i'm doing in 20 years and let's see what you are doing in 20 years. they must have believe me because when i graduated from high school they all voted me most like you to succeed. that means that they knew what was necessary and were too lazy and trifling for doing it themselves. unfortunately it is not restricted to just high school. you will find negative peer pressure in all aspects of your life. people trying to control your life, trying to control your behavior. you are abnormal and you have got to learn to think for yourself. and to move forward.
in a logical way, and not in a political way. it will make all the difference in the world. but you know when i did get back on track, there was one thing, overriding thing, that i wanted to do. i wanted to be a contestant on my favorite program, ge college bowl. anybody remember ge college bowl? that was my favorite tv program. came on every sunday at 6:00. they pitted two colleges against each other and would ask questions about science, math, history and geology and i was really good at that stuff but they would also ask questions about classical art and classical music. there was no way you are going to learn classical art or classical music in high school and the city of detroit. in my high school you said van gogh they would say put the s ended and the band will go. they had no idea what you're talking about. i made an executive decision i would get on the bus and go downtown day after day, week
after week, month after month and look at every picture, when they died, what period the representative, listening to my bach and mozart. the kids in new york thought i was. a black kid in motown listening to mozart? i tried to commend some that the moe in motown was most are but nobody was buying it and i decided which college to attend based on that. i had enough money to apply at one college and the grand championship that year was between harvard and yale. and yale just demolished harvard so i didn't want to go to school with a bunch of dummies. i probably have offended somebody but i applied to yell and fortunately they accepted me with a scholarship and the year i went there harper was the year college bowl when off the air so i still think it's beyond. it was okay because i decided i wanted to be a neurosurgeon so i wanted to go go to the place
best known for their surgery course and that was johns hopkins. all the biggest names. the problem is they only took two people out of 125 top applicants. how was i going to be one of them? well, when i went for my interview the fellow who was in charge of the residency program, was also in charge of cultural affairs at the hospital and we talked a little bit about medicine and some of the neurosurgeon and somehow they conversation turned to classical music. we talked for an hour about conductors and composers and orchestras and halls. there was no way he was not taking in the program. some people used to criticize me when i was learning classical arts and classical music. they said, this year's european history. this is not culturally relative to you. but really, what does that term mean, cultural relevance to a
citizen of the united states of america? go to ellis island. go to that museum. look at the faces on the wall, those pictures and people who came to this nation from every part of the world, many of them with only the things they could carry. people who worked not eight hours a day but 10, 12 and 16 hours a day. not five days a week at six or seven days a week. not just for minimum wage, so there grandsons and granddaughters might have an opportunity in this land. that is what is culturally relevant. hundreds of years before that hundreds of immigrants came here in the bottoms of slave ships working even harder for even less but they too had a dream that one day their great-grandsons and great granddaughters might pursue freedom and prosperity in this nation. of all the nations in the world, this one, the united states of
america is the only one big enough and great enough to allow all those people from all those backgrounds to achieve their dreams. and that is why every single one of us is culturally relevant to every single one of us and that is why we are called united states of america. we would do well to recognize that our diversity is not a weakness, it is a tremendous blessing and a tremendous strength. i was asked once by an intel reporter connie said dr. carson i noticed he don't speak much about race. why is that? i said it's because i'm a neurosurgeon. he looked at me quite quizzically and couldn't understand the correlation. i said you see when i take someone to the operating room and i cut that scalp and take that bone out of an open the dura, i'm operating on the thing that makes them who they are.
the caller does not make them who they are. the brain makes them who they are. when you begin to think on that kind of a level about things, and not just knee-jerk reactions to superficial things, you become a different person and that is why we have the kind of rain power that we have today. when i began to realize all those things, i had a very very rapid career and at no time i found myself chief of neurosurgery at the number one hospital in the nation. all kinds of fabulous things began to happen. dysplasia cases, tumors, conjoined twins and my star rose extremely rapidly. but i am very very grateful that i was born in this nation, where you can make choices and where you have the ability through hard work, to control your
destiny, where you don't have to be a victim unless you choose to be at the them. and that is what i mean when i say think big. each one of those letters mean something special. the key is talent which god gave to every single person. not just the ability to sing and dance and throw a ball. i have nothing against that, but we need to elevate academic achievement to the appropriate level and we have got to do it quickly. we have one generation, no more than that, to fix this problem. we have to be serious. the ages for honesty, live a clean and honest life, you put them there they are back to haunt you just when you don't want to see them. if you always tell the truth you won't have to try to remember what you said three months ago. the eyes for insight which comes from people who are trying to go where you are going. learn from the triumphs and learn from their mistakes. the n is for nice.
be nice to people, because once they get over their suspicion of why you are being nice, they will be nice to you. and if you are a democrat, i want you to make sure you were nice to all republicans for a week and if you are a republican i want you to make sure you are nice to all democrats for a week. i want you to get used to doing that, because we have to learn how to work together. we have much more in common, then we have a part. we need to understand what our principles are, what are the values? what do we stand for in this nation and not of ourselves to be divided up by pundits, who derive their power and their income by stirring up trouble among the people. we are smarter than that and we can do better than that. the k is for knowledge which is a thing that makes you into a more valuable person.
are they important? i can get them right back almost immediately but -- or at least they could do for managed care and that is what the wisest man who ever lived meant when he said knowledge wisdom and understanding because with those he gives all the gold, silver and rubies you want and you understand they don't mean a mountain from a hill of beans. become too valuable to the people around you. the b is for books which are the mechanism for retaining that knowledge and it's never too late. my mother got her ged and went on to college and got her honorary doctorate degree so she is dr. carson now too. it's never too late. the second i is for in-depth learning, learning for the sake of knowledge and understanding. the last letter is g. we live in a country that is
trying to throw god out. i think that is a tremendous mistake. many of the people who have tried to rewrite our history say our founding fathers did not believe in god. really they were deists. that means a god who puts things in motion and then walks away. but if you read their writings, many of which are in our new book, you will see that they were not deists. and i want you to think about this. our founding document, the declaration of independence, talks about inalienable rights given to us by our creator, a.k.a. god. the pledge of allegiance where flags as we are one nation, under god. many courtrooms say in god we trust. every point in your pocket and every bill in your pockets is pocket says in god we trust.
if it's in our pledge, that's in our courts and on our money but we are not supposed to talk about it, what in the world is that? in medicine we call of schizophrenia. that doesn't that explain a lot of what is going on in nation today? we need to make it perfectly clear that it's okay to live a godly principles, loving their fellow man and caring about your neighbor and developing your god-given talents with the utmost to become valuable to the people around and having values and principles that govern our lives. and if we do that, we will truly have one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. thank you very much. [applause] [applause]
>> thank you very much. we have an opportunity for a few questions. there are some roving microphones, and he would like for you to use those so that everybody can hear the question. i see a hand right here. >> okay. hi. my name is jessica. i met 2009 fellow from seattle washington. you were appointed by the bioethics community by george w. bush and he spoke earlier about how the u.s. inspired socialism and i was wondering if you could take a second and talk about the ethical implications of universal health care and what your opinions are on that? >> okay. well, there is no question that we need health care reform in this country.
we spend more than twice as much per capita for health care in this country as the next closest nation and yet we have tremendous access problems. there is an enormous amount of waste and inefficiency in our system. so that is not going to be corrected quite frankly by throwing more money at it. it is going to be corrected by doing intelligent things. for instance, for it a bad fed back to me in birmingham alabama versus new york city versus miami versus detroit, different cost, different ways, different ways collecting all of which justifies the mountains and mountains of paper involved and the people that have to be paid out of the health care dollar. it's absolute craziness. when every single diagnosis has something on the icd-9 code come every procedure has something on the code and we have to see this which means it can all be done
electronically, virtually instantly without all those papers and the people to push them around. special interest groups wouldn't like that because there are special-interest groups that would benefit from all of that. and you know, we have to be able to get through that and do things in an intelligent fashion. no what i would do, because what the special-interest groups say is some doctors would be unscrupulous and say they would do to appendectomy so they would get paid twice. those of us in medicine no there is not such a thing. for those billing a gigantic yorker see why not employ what i call the saudi arabian intuition. why do people not steal very much in saudi arabia? they cut off their limbs. they cut off their fingers. i wouldn't necessarily do that, but there would be some real
penalties for doing it. you would lose your license for life. you would go to jail for no less than 10 years. you would lose all of your personal assets. i don't think anybody would even think about doing it and as proof of that, look at sweden. they step a tremendous drunk driving problem and then you know about 20 years ago, they enacted the most severe drunk driving penalties in the world and it has uniformly applied and there's virtually no drunk driving in sweden. so you know there are ways to enforce penalties but they have to be used across the board. you can't play favors with them and they have to be consistent. that behavior dies outbreak quickly. also there a lot of other solutions that, you know, i mentioned in the book. america the beautiful, that really i think solve these problems quite effectively to get the cost down tremendously and provide actually better access than we have now. so it can be done.
i think we should do it. i think we can do it and we can do it for even less if we do it in an intelligent and rational way. yes? she is coming with a microphone. >> i know we talked earlier about music but i never had the opportunity ask you, what is your favorite classical piece? >> oh boy, that's a tough one because i love so many classical pieces of music. my wife is a classical musician, and when we were at home on friday nights, about this time i would be laying on the couch and she would be playing the piano. and it is just so soothing. i primarily like -- and i love -- but you know what
was interesting some years ago when we were separating the twins in south africa, these were twins conjoined at the top of the head in opposite directions and there have been 13 attempts to separate twins like that before, none of which have been successful. and we had embarked among this operation. it was extraordinarily difficult and we have reached a point where the blood vessels were so entangled, we stop the operation and decided to go into conference. i suggested maybe we should just cover the area over with skin and come back in a few months and maybe they would have developed enough collateral that we could cut through. the doctors from south africa said we don't have the ability to keep the separated twins alike. they will die.
i felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and i said lord, help me. i went in with my scalpel and a prayer on my lips and started cutting those vessels. they were so thin you could see the anesthetic nobles coursing through. to make a long story short when i made the final cut that separated those twins, over the stereo system came the hallelujah chorus. everybody had goosebumps. we finished that operation after 28 hours. one of the twins popped his eyes open and reach for for the end of tracheal tube and the other when did the same thing. by the time they got to the icu, within two days they were excavated and eating within two weeks and crawling and today they are driving in the eighth grade and doing very well. another question. yes.
>> dr. carson, based upon some of the things you are discussing with politics and american government, sounds like you would be in favor of implementing term limits and some other changes in washington. can you discuss that? >> well, yes. i would very much be in favor of term limits, fully recognizing the argument that you know, if people only have a couple of years to serve, they never really get to know the system and their usefulness is limited. and i understand that and i appreciate that are go what i would do to solve the problem is give people longer terms. you know i would make that term, you know, six, eight, even 10 years but you can't be realistic. you just have a one term. you can be recalled. i've seen people recalled every two years but he cannot be reelected. and that would eat a severe blow
to the fourth branch of government. i really think that is the only way we are going to get it done. now how's that going to happen when the people in congress are the ones who get to vote on that? i am going to say something very radical right now. it's going to require a constitutional convention. just like we used to have back in the early days. that is what it is going to take his things have gotten so far out of whack, that it needs to be reassessed and it's got to be readjusted. any others? yes, the young lady. and by the way for those who don't know we have young people here from restoration academy, which takes young people, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and really tries to prepare them for the world.
you will see, if you talk to some of these young people, that they are doing a tremendous job. >> where does your brother curtis live? >> my brother lives in atlanta area, and he is an in aeronautical and mechanical engineer, works for harper aviation. i became the brain surgeon and he became the rocket scientists. [laughter] i see a couple of hands over here. >> spoke a little bit earlier about the victim mentality. what steps or actions can we take as a society to try to change that culture? >> okay, good question. how can we eradicate the victim mentality? first of all, i think we have to continue to manifest the compassion that has always been a part of who we are. sometimes you know, we have to
go above and beyond what we want to do. in medicine for instance, some of you who are older remember, you didn't hear much about indigent people not getting medical care. is it because there were no indigent people? no. it was because many years ago, insurance companies didn't have the ability to run roughshod over everybody and you know, they had to pay a decent amount when you a saw a patient who was insured, so that physicians had somewhat of a cushion and virtually all of them included a substantial number of indigent people in their practice. nobody said little about it. it was something you did and some of that was expected by you and now they don't have the ability to do that because they run on such margins. people have to find ways to do
that anyway, to get these people taking care of. victim mentality is something that is stoked by many in the political arena, in order to increase their own power. they want people to be victims so they can look to them as their great savior, so that they can vote for them and keep them in power. in exactly the wrong course of action to take. we need to hold up in front of people good examples. for instance, there is an organization known as the horatio alger society. they select 10 to 12 people each year and these are people who came from horrible, horrible backgrounds and have achieved at the highest levels in our society.
that is where horatio alger used to write about, the famous american writer, rags to riches stories. and we need to help people to understand that the person who is the has the most to do with what happens to you is you. it's not somebody else. you see, that is where you become the victim, when you start thinking that somebody else is in control of your destiny and that simply is not the case when you live in a free country. we have to make sure it remains a free country because it's getting more and more regulated and becoming less and less free, but that is because the people have shrunken dock and when the people shrank back, something has to fill that void and it becomes the government. people have got to become more vocal, no question about it. spoke about politics and you
took a new job working the library but i wanted you to talk about the politics of the library because most public libraries are funded by city and county government and the funding, as you said, it's the stuff they don't have that the library has. can you share some thoughts about that and the trend of funding towards the institution? >> okay, well, i can tell you that, what night where we at the library? tuesday night of this week. we were at the main branch of the baltimore library. it was actually a thank you for annie and myself and some other philanthropists in the baltimore area who live done and not for the library system. who have done a lot for the library system. the reason i bring that up is libraries are so important we shouldn't depend on the government.
we should take care of our own libraries in our own communities. people should get involved in something that can have such a profound effect on young people. we have got to stop depending on the government to do everything. we can do this ourselves and if you go back to early america, where we have a large number number of libraries established, they were maintained by the communities. we need to get back to doing that again. i think that is where we will have very successful libraries, and while i'm on that topic, churches. why are churches our church's tax-exempt? because they are supposed to be doing something in their community. they are not supposed to be social clubs. now we have a situation where the government is competing with the churches, and still giving the churches tax exemptions. let's stop being schizophrenic about it.
at either don't give the churches any exemptions or let the churches do their job. i think if we get more people involved in communities like there used to be an caring about each other, a whole lot of these problems get taken care of and we can leave the government to do what the government is supposed to do. i see a hand over here and how many more questions can we take? two more, okay. >> i know that universities, engineering colleges, they are working on technologies to help with surgeries. how do you feel about the impact of technology in the medical field? >> i have seen neurosurgery changed tremendously on the basis of technology in the decades that i have been in the field and it's about to take another giant leap.
now we have tremendous imaging but very soon we will have robots. there are already robots working in some areas of surgery. they are not quite refined enough for neurosurgery yet but that is just a matter of time and when they are, the kinds of things it we will be able to do, will be absolutely astonishing. i will be too old but i will still be watching with great anticipation and making a few suggestions about it. it's very exciting. and one last question. i will let the people with a microphone make the choice so i won't be the bad guy. >> hi. after teaching for benjamin s. carson on his repertory in atlanta for three years i happen to cross different hands and read it and enjoyed it and haven't read your most recent book but it sounds like that to have taken on very different
tones, and i'm curious if politics are in your future and our where you were going with that? >> there have been a lot of people who tried to convince me that i should go into politics, but until the hand of god grabs me and puts me in that arena, i will not do it. but, i think there has to be some voices that cry in the wilderness, to help wake people up. we are devoting, and he and i, a lot of our energy to education because we recognize that ultimately, if our nation is to succeed, and we must be at the top, and not at the bottom of the academic pile. so i think that is every bit as important as anything i could possibly do in the political arena. >> we have one last question. >> okay.
>> what was your hardest surgery? >> oh boy. there were so many that were so hard. i spent a lot of time praying. i might have looked like i was operating. [laughter] but, when one that comes to mind is actually, he was an adult. his wife was a nurse on the pediatric service so i could not excuse her. he had something called an tipple lindall, a genetic disorder that involves tumors that develop in different parts of the central nervous system, and it turns out that he developed one of these tumors in the middle of his brainstem. and no one on the adult side could come up with a solution. his wife had been working with
me for years and she said you do all these amazing things. you can operate on my husband. should i say but he is not a kid. she said, he is a kid at heart. i talked to him and i said you know, there is a 50/50 chance that you will die on the table if we try to tried to take the tumor out. and he said something relatively profound. he said, there's a 100% chance i'm going to die if you don't take it out. so i will go with 50. during that operation, which is very very difficult, the electric waves, sort of like they have one for the heart and you have one for the brain, they went flat. the anesthesiologist, who was not in favor of the operation in the first place, said did you
see that? you killed him. i wasn't happy but we did get the tumor out and we closed him up and we were rather somber, and the next morning, he was awake and cracking jokes. he did perfectly fine. but i don't necessarily believe that some of those are all me. i always pray and ask god to help me and i ask them to give me -- give me wisdom and he is never let me down. that is one of the reasons my faith is so strong. are right, thank you all very much. [applause] [applause] for more information about dan carson, visit carson scholars.org.